Ever crave a quick meal but hate picking it up in that disposable container? Do you feel like your only choice is eating at home in order to avoid plastic waste? Recently, I sat down with the owner of GO Box to find out how this Porland company is implementing reusable containers in the local fast food industry.
Laura Weiss, the founder of GO Box, started the company back in 2011 with the idea of reducing waste in the fast food industry. With food trucks especially popular in Portland, huge quantities of to-go containers are thrown out each day as students and workers quickly grab lunch and eat it on the go. GO Box though, partners with local restaurants to offer reusable containers instead of the disposable ones. GO Box is the ideal company for hard working individuals that want a quick bite to eat without the nasty Styrofoam container that comes with it. As Laura put it, "Our mission is doing away with throw-away".
Currently, GO Box has over 80 restaurant partners in the downtown metro area of Portland and the Lloyd District. All of these restaurants tend to be places that offer mostly to-go food like small eateries, food carts, and deli bars. Each restaurant has agreed to offer reusable containers for takeout orders from GO Box members. Participants can sign up to via the GO Box app where they see a detailed map of nearby venues offering GO Box containers. At the restaurant, participants order and then use the app to indicate to the restaurant that they want their order in a GO Box. Their order is then placed in a durable, reusable plastic container. These plastic containers are designed to be lightweight while also keeping food safe and leak-free. The container is "checked out" to participants, with a limit of one container at a time. Once you've finished your delicious meal, the GO Box container can be placed in any of the drop-off locations available around the city. There are six public drop-off locations available in Portland which can be located on the app. When dropping off the GO Box, participants scan the barcode on the drop-off station and the container is "returned".
GO Box is a service that anyone can sign up for! Through the cell phone app or the website, participants pay a yearly fee of $18 for unlimited use of the service. As long as they return each container after using it, there is no limit to how many times a GO Box can be requested in a year. On the other side, restaurants pay a small 20 cent fee every time someone picks up a meal in a GO Box. Laura explained to me in the interview that the small cost for restaurants is very similar to what they pay for a plastic or Styrofoam disposable container, and by using GO Box, the restaurant shows their commitment to the environment. You can help expand the restaurants available on GO Box by letting your favorite eateries know about the service and encouraging them to join in!
Additionally, GO Box works with businesses to offer private GO Box drop-off stations to their employees. Currently they have partnered with around 40 different businesses which pay a $95 monthly fee to house a drop-off station directly in their work place. This encourages employees to use GO Box and can even count towards a buildings LEED green certification. If you currently work for a company in the downtown Metro area, reach out to the managers or higher ups to see if they would be interested in offering an employee-only drop off location.
Since its creation in 2011, GO Box has saved over 120,000 containers from ending up in the landfill and currently has 3500 members signed up. Just to show how committed they are to the environment, GO Box is also completely sustained on bike power! That means all drop-offs and pick-ups are done by pulling a nice little trailer attached to a bike. Clearly, this company is dedicated to making their business model as sustainable as possible!
So, have you fallen in love with the idea of GO Box yet? Well guess what? It's for sale! Laura, GO Box's owner, is moving up to Bellingham, Washington this summer and with that, is saying goodbye to her company. If anyone is interested in purchasing GO Box, now is the time to take advantage of this opportunity. If I wasn't a broke college student, I would invest in it myself! You can learn more about the business details by contacting Laura directly at email@example.com.
Now that you have an eco-friendly alternative to eating out, what are you waiting for? Let's grab lunch in a GO Box!